Q: Is it true that Dry Eye symptoms seem to be more severe in the winter than in the warmer spring and summer months?
Yes, dry eye symptoms are more prevalent in the winter months, due to the fact that cooler air can’t hold as much water vapor as warmer air, so the air is drier.
Q: When should a person come in to see their optometrist for Dry Eye symptoms and when is it enough to take care of this problem yourself?
Blurred vision/fluctuating vision is a common symptom of dry eye that can be experienced commonly when on a computer daily, sitting next to a vent, near ceiling fans, etc. In addition, other dry eye symptoms include burning, itching, light sensitivity, sore eyes, eye fatigue, and headaches. Blurred vision affects work productivity, and can disorient, and even compromise safety on the job. If any of the above symptoms cause discomfort on a daily basis or a decrease in safety/productivity at work, it is recommended for the patient to seek care from their primary optometrist to address the issues.
Q: What is the examination like to determine whether someone is suffering from Dry Eyes?
The examination for dry eye includes a detailed history of the signs and symptoms the patient is experiencing and when and how often it is occurring. Further your optometrist will evaluate the health of the ocular surface to identify signs of dryness through diagnostic testing that helps the doctor to gauge the severity of the condition and what treatment protocol to follow.
Q: I have a friend in whose eyes are frequently overly watery. That isn’t Dry Eye, is it?
The most common cause of watering eyes is dry eye. As the ocular surface dries, it becomes irritated, and then the body attempts to remedy the situation by causing excess tearing.
Q: What are the typical treatments used to help people suffering from Dry Eyes?
Different levels of treatment are dictated by the level of severity of dry eye. Treatment’s can include: artificial tears, ointments, supplements, punctal plugs, cyclosporins, prescription eye medications, and in-office procedures.
Q: Are some people more prone to having Dry Eyes than others?
Yes, some people are absolutely more prone to dry eye than others. The following are a list of factors that can lead to an increase in the risk of dry eyes:
- Computer use
- Contact lens wear
- Aging (becomes more common later in life, especially after age 50)
- Indoor environments (Ceiling fans, air conditioning, heating systems)
- Outdoor environments (Climates high in elevation-similar to Flagstaff, AZ, or windy conditions)
- Health conditions (some systemic diseases that include diabetes, thyroid-associated diseases, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and sjogren’s syndrome contribute to dry eye problems)
- Medications (Many prescription and non-prescription medicines such as antihistamines, antidepressants, blood pressure meds, and birth control can contribute to an increase of dry eye symptoms)
- Eyelid Problems-incomplete closure of the eyelids when blinking or sleeping
- Refractive Procedures- Lasik and other corneal corneal refractive surgeries can sometimes cause dry eyes
Q: Do you have any recommendations for people to help them avoid Dry Eye issues?
Below is a list of recommendations you can try to get relief before going to the eye doctor:
- Blinking more frequently (especially when on a computer or some digital device)
- Take frequent breaks when on a computer (every 20 minutes, take a break for 20 seconds, and look at something in the distance)
- Remove eye-makeup before bed-eyeliner and other makeup can clog the openings of the meibomian glands at the base of the eye lashes, leading to meibomian glands dysfunction and evaporative dry eye. At the end of the day, thoroughly remove all traces of makeup from you lids and lashes.
- Clean your eyelids-before bedtime, gently wash your eyelids to remove bacteria that can cause blepharitis and meibomian gland problems that lead to dry eye symptoms.
- Wear quality sunglasses-always wear sunglasses that block 100% of the Sun’s UV rays. Wrap-style frames is a great feature to protect eyes from wind, dust, and irritants when outdoors.